5 Early Season Whitetail Tips

5 Early Season Whitetail Tips

#1 Watch for the Rut

The rut is the period of time where deer are ready to breed, which means that bucks and does alike will be on the move. The precise timing of the rut can be different throughout the country, as well as the timing of pre-, peak, and post-rut phases. Studying deer patterns in your area can help you know the behavior of the bucks you're hunting, so you can know where and when to surprise them.

#2 Work the Wind

It goes without saying, but a buck's sense of smell is his greatest sense, and can be used to bust you in your tree stand if the wind direction is not in your favor. Before the season begins, make sure you're setting up your stand or blind not just in a high-activity area, but also in such a way that the wind carries your scent away from where the deer will be. If the wind is unpredictable, consider a portable ground blind that can be moved depending on conditions.

#3 Sight in Your Rifle

If you're a rifle hunter, it's imperative that your rifle is properly zeroed. Many hunters put this off until it's too late, so do it well before opening day. Plenty of bucks are missed because the hunter was lazy and decided not to sight in his rifle. In addition, make sure you're hunting with the same ammo that you used to zero your rifle. This ensures that your sights are set perfectly for the exact powder charge and bullet weight that you'll be shooting. The more preseason practice, even for seasoned hunters, the better.

#4 Sit All Day

It's common for some hunters to sit in the stand for the morning, then take a long break midday to eat some lunch and maybe take a nap before going out back for the evening. Sitting in the stand all day does two things. First, you can't kill deer unless you're where the deer are, so being in the stand all day increases your chances by that much. You never know what might happen, especially during unpredictable phases of the rut. Second, the longer you stay out, the more in tune you get with your area and what goes on at different hours. Even if you see nothing during those midday hours, it can be worth it to gain intel on the cadences and rhythms of your hunting area.

#5 Be Flexible

What worked last year, or even for the last five years may not be the ticket for this year's deer season. Patterns change, especially considering weather conditions such as drought, food scarcity, or inclement weather. Learn what the animals are doing, and then adapt to that. It might mean moving a stand or adjusting hunting pressure, but if it's feasible, it can be the difference between a good or a great deer season. Remember, you can't kill them if you aren't with them.

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